Featuring conversations with Agnes Gund, Issa Ibrahim, Kay Redfield Jamison, Lyle Rexer, Susan Spangenberg, Dr. Aswin Vasan, and Darren Walker hosted by Phong H. Bui to benefit Fountain House.
In this talk
Ashwin Vasan, MD, PhD, is the President and CEO of Fountain House, a national non profit fighting to improve health, increase opportunity and reduce social and economic isolation for people with serious mental illness. Dr. Vasan has grown Fountain House from a direct service provider in NYC to a national leader in mental health. A practicing physician, academic, and public servant, Dr. Vasan holds concurrent positions as an Assistant Professor at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons. He has published extensively in peer-reviewed journals and appeared in The New York Times, BBC News, and Forbes.
Agnes Gund is president emerita of the Museum of Modern Art and chair of its International Council. She is chair emerita of MoMA PS1. Ms. Gund joined the MoMA Board in 1976 and served as president from 1991 until 2002. Ms. Gund is founder and chair emerita of Studio in a School. A philanthropist and collector of modern and contemporary art, Ms. Gund serves on the boards of the Cleveland Museum of Art, the Foundation for Art and Preservation in Embassies, and the Morgan Library & Museum. She is co-founder and chair emerita of the Center for Curatorial Leadership, trustee emerita of the Barnes Foundation and the National YoungArts Foundation. In 2017, she launched the Art for Justice Fund in partnership with the Ford Foundation and Rockefeller Philanthropy Advisors.
Darren Walker is president of the Ford Foundation and co-founder and chair of the Presidents’ Council on Disability Inclusion in Philanthropy. Darren co-chairs New York City’s Mayoral Advisory Commission on City Art, Monuments, and Markers, the New York City Census Task Force, and the Governor’s Commission and serves on The Independent Commission on New York City Criminal Justice and Incarceration Reform and UN International Labour Organization Global Commission on the Future of Work. He serves on the boards of Carnegie Hall, the High Line, VOW to End Child Marriage, the Committee to Protect Journalists, the National Gallery of Art, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture.
Kay Redfield Jamison
Dalio Professor in Mood Disorders and Professor of Psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine Kay Redfield Jamison is co-director of the Johns Hopkins Mood Disorders Center. She is also an Honorary Professor of English at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. She is co-author of the standard medical text on manic–depressive (bipolar) illness, which was chosen as the most outstanding book in biomedical sciences by the American Association of Publishers, and author of Touched with Fire, An Unquiet Mind, Night Falls Fast, Exuberance, and Nothing Was the Same. Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide was a national bestseller and a New York Times Notable Book in 1999. Her book Robert Lowell: Setting the River on Fire, was published in 2017.
Independent critic, curator, and writer Lyle Rexer is the author of The Critical Eye: 15 Pictures to Understand Photography (Intellect Ltd 2019), The Edge of Vision: The Rise of Abstraction in Photography (Aperture 2009), and Photography’s Antiquarian Avant-Garde: The New Wave in Old Processes, (Harry N. Abrams 2002) and others. He has published hundreds of catalog essays and articles on art, architecture, and photography and contributed to such publications as The New York Times, Harper’s, Art in America, among others. He has lectured at many institutions, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, Yale University, among others, and he teaches in both the graduate and undergraduate programs at SVA.
Artist, musician, writer, filmmaker, and activist Issa Ibrahim is a 25-year artist-in-residence at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center’s Living Museum, and now as an artist of Fountain House Gallery. “Knocking down the icon” has been a major theme since his teen years, influenced in the late 1970s by punk rock. Anarchic takes on comic strip themes stay with Issa and resonate, lending him the capacity to merge the lowbrow with the erudite, the truth behind the fairy tale. Issa is the author of the 2016 memoir The Hospital Always Wins. He has been featured on German public television, in an HBO documentary, and in an Edward R. Murrow and Third Coast award-winning NPR audio story.
Self-taught, multidisciplinary artist Susan Spangenberg was raised in a severely dysfunctional family, which led to group homes and institutionalization during her teenage years. Susan’s work is autobiographical, commenting on her experience in the mental health system as well as touching upon other relevant social issues. She frequently incorporates text and writing in her art along with elements of spiritual symbols from her East Indian ancestry, samples of her psychotropic medication, and hand-sewn fabric throughout her work. Susan hopes to inspire generations of female artists to document their trauma, inequality, and identity and show how these realities have affected them–and to give female artists the freedom to speak out as she has.
Phong H. Bui
Artist, writer, and independent curator Phong H. Bui is Publisher and Artistic Director of the Brooklyn Rail, the River Rail, Rail Editions, and Rail Curatorial Projects. Among many other awards, Bui received The Dorothea and Leo Rabkin Prize for Arts Writers in 2017, was the recipient of an Honorary Doctorate from University of the Arts in 2020, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters’ Award for Distinguished Service to the Arts in 2021.